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2024 NFL Draft: 12 EDGE Prospects to Watch

2024 NFL Draft: 12 EDGE Prospects to Watch

With the college football season approaching, it’s time to take a deeper look at some of the top NFL Draft-eligible players at each position. This will help us assemble an early list of prospects to watch this fall.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit

2024 NFL Draft: Edge Defenders to Watch

Below are 12 Draft-eligible edge defenders who I’ll be keeping an eye on this coming season.

Chris Braswell (Alabama)

A five-star recruit, Braswell has served as a rotational edge defender so far, primarily on passing downs. Like teammate Dallas Turner (see below), he’s on the smaller side for a pro edge at 6’3”, 240, but plays with grit and leverage, showing a power element to his game. He primarily converts speed to power as a rusher but has the first step and hand use to win around the edge as well. Now that Will Anderson has moved on to the pros, Braswell will have a chance to take the next step forward as a projected starter in 2023. I’d like to see him trust his instincts more, which would allow him to show off his tools.

Adisa Isaac (Penn State)

The Nittany Lions have one of the most exciting edge duos in college football, with Isaac being a more regular starter than Chop Robinson last year despite the two playing a similar number of snaps. He’s a tall, lanky edge rusher at 6’4”, 249, with a good first step and the quickness and flexibility to work around blockers. Although he’s added bulk since arriving in Happy Valley, he needs to continue building functional strength, and issues with balance and coordination crop up too often in his game. Thus far, he should be regarded as a developmental prospect with upside, given his impressive physical/athletic tools.

Laiatu Latu (UCLA)

After briefly retiring from football after sustaining a neck injury in the fall of 2020, Latu returned and broke out last season as a first-year transfer. At 6’4”, 265, he has an ideal build for an edge defender and is able to lock out blockers and locate the football effectively in the run game, with a pretty varied repertoire as a pass-rusher. Somewhat surprisingly, he relies more on suddenness than power. If he can replicate his success from last season and if his neck checks out during the pre-draft process, he’ll get a lot of interest from pro teams.

Gabriel Murphy (UCLA)

Opposite Latu, the 6’3”, 262-pound Murphy is a highly-regarded lineman in his own right. He’s a fifth-year player who just transferred to the Bruins from North Texas, and although his sack output dropped from 7.5 in 2021 to 1.5 last year, he was still able to create plenty of disruption. His wins tend to come by virtue of his active hand use and nonstop motor, and his knee-bend allows him to hold up against power. Interestingly, the Bruins often lined him up as an interior rusher on passing downs so that he could fit “Nascar” fronts.

Fantasy Football Draft Kit

Demeioun “Chop” Robinson (Penn State)

Beginning his career at Maryland, Robinson played 263 snaps there in 2021 before transferring to Penn State and emerging as one of the most efficient pass-rushers in college football last year, being credited by PFF with 48 combined sacks, hits, and hurries over 267 rush snaps. He’s on the smaller side at 6’3”, 242, but has a gritty, physical style of play, with good knee-bend and leverage allowing him to play with more power than anticipated. A smooth, lanky edge, he could become an effective every-down player in the pros if he continues to fill out his frame and add functional strength.

Jack Sawyer (Ohio State)

Rated by Rivals as a five-star recruit and the top weakside defensive end in the country, Sawyer has added twenty pounds of bulk in school and now stands at 6’4”, 260 pounds. He was primarily a rotational edge last year, but expect his role to expand now that Zach Harrison is off to the pros. Able to stand up or put his hand in the dirt, he’s a physical, high-motor player who has an explosive first step and can convert speed to power and collapse the edge or even make spot drops in coverage. With a strong 2023 campaign, his tools and versatility could make him one of the top edge defenders picked.

Bralen Trice (Washington)

Coming off of a 38-12.0-9.0 campaign in which he primarily worked as a stand-up rusher, the massive 6’4”, 269-pound Trice should be firmly established as one of the top edge defenders to watch this season. Although he has the power to challenge opposing tackles, he primarily relies on lateral quickness and suddenness to generate penetration with active hand use. I’d like to see him play with more patience and discipline, as he has some balance issues that crop up more frequently than some of the other top prospects.

J.T. Tuimoloau (Ohio State)

Like teammate Jack Sawyer, Tuimoloau was a five-star recruit who could have signed with virtually any program, and at 6’4”, 272 pounds, he’s one of the biggest edge defenders in this year’s class. The primary starter opposite Zach Harrison last year, he enjoyed a solid season of 28-10.5-3.5, although a good chunk of his production came against Penn State. He has impressive flexibility and agility to knife through gaps, as well as the functional strength and toughness to occupy blockers as a two-gap defender or bull-rush tackles in the run game. The Buckeyes let him play various different alignments last year.

Zion Tupuola-Fetui (Washington)

An interesting prospect who’s played at weights ranging from 249 to 280 pounds, Tupuola-Fetui had a dominant 2020 season before tearing his Achilles the following year. He has the length and suddenness to disrupt in the run game and is an effective speed-to-power rusher from a two-point stance. Discipline, functional strength, and more consistent intensity in the run game are areas of his game he could stand to improve, but he could interest teams as a situational pass-rusher with future upside on early downs.

Dallas Turner (Alabama)

Turner’s had two strong seasons to begin his collegiate career and becomes the Tide’s top edge rusher now that Will Anderson is in Houston. He’s a little bit thin at 6’4”, 240, but has impressive bend, length, and functional strength to play the run, where he shows good discipline in his run fits. I was really impressed with what I saw from his motor on tape, and he is a high-level athlete with excellent range in pursuit. He’s explosive enough to win off the edge in the passing game, but I’d like to see him diversify his repertoire of moves and counters, as he can sometimes get stuck on blocks.

Princely Umanmielen (Florida)

One of the more incredible physical specimens in this year’s class, Umanmielen stands 6’5” with very impressive length and solid functional strength. He’s able to work through trash to get to the ball in the run game, with good flexibility and contact balance. With discipline in his run fits and a high motor in pursuit, he has the versatility to stay on the field on early downs. Coming off of a 4.5-sack season, Umanmielen has flashed the ability to get after the quarterback in the passing game but must produce more consistently.

Jared Verse (Florida State)

Few players surprised more with their decision to return to school than Verse, who would likely have been one of the top edge defenders in last year’s class after transferring from Albany and producing at a high level in his first season with the Seminoles. He’s a dangerous pass-rusher with a nonstop motor, an excellent first step, and a surprisingly effective bull rush for a player whose listed weight was 248 pounds last season. He has active hands, bends a tight arc, and gives good effort in the run game. Heading into the upcoming season, he should be regarded as a potential first-round draft pick.

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Notice any prospects I missed? Feel free to let me know on Twitter @draftexaminer!

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